Here is my opinion on paid blogging — finally.
It’s been a couple of days since I last blogged, and I swear I have an excellent reason.
I’ve been reading over the last few days. I am 45% through the last book of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson and I am determined to finish it over the weekend so that I can move on to another book. Next on my reading list is Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir). I am looking forward to both finishing my current read, and starting the next one. (For those of you who are unaware, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire are also part of the Millennium trilogy.)
With that in mind, a few days ago I promised a blog entry about how I feel about paid blogging — accepting monetary or other forms of compensation for advertisements in blog entries — and I have yet to deliver, tonight that is changing. I admit, I have disappointed at least one person because of this, to which I apologize. Now, on with the fun.
For those of you who don’t know, there are quite a few ways to monetize a blog. The most popular way, as I have seen, is to provide sponsored posts where the blogger will basically “name-drop” the advertiser with a link to their website/product. These posts can often catch the reader off guard, because they usually seem legit until you get to the link — at which point, they just look like spam. If you’ve never run a blog, you probably haven’t seen this, but it kind of resembles the spam comments that bloggers get — a fun fact: before the advent of good spam protection, emails notifying me of these spam comments would wake me up in the middle of the night — except that they are plastered on the front of the blog. Examples of these types of posts can be seen here, here, and here. After reading this, you’d probably think that I hate sponsored posts but this isn’t the case. It all depends on how they are done.
Normally, a blogger will publish sponsored posts into a specific category. When this is done, it is easy for readers and bloggers to ignore the posts. Bloggers will typically exclude the sponsored post category from their RSS feed, so as not to disturb their readers. No blogger wants you to see the sponsored posts, they are merely an inconvenience they have to deal with to get paid. As long as the sponsored post is on the main blog page, the post will be paid for.
Other forms of blog monetization include selling ad space, and doing product reviews. Often times, advertisers will approach a blogger to buy ad space in their side bars. This usually includes text links — the cheapest option, typically — as well as banner advertisements of various sizes. These forms of advertisement are usually less annoying for readers, and I believe them to be more widely accepted by the blogging community since they don’t require bloggers to sell the advertiser’s products to their readers directly. Sometimes, a company will provide a product for review to a blogger in exchange for their honest opinion. This form of paid compensation isn’t necessarily the same as accepting money, and it allows you voice your actual opinion.
This all doesn’t sound too bad, right?
There are some websites such as Ad-Free Blog that are inviting bloggers to take a stand against this paid blogging trend and those who partake. The website seems to make use of fear mongering to establish an emotional connection to the cause. Essentially, they say that paid blogging is bad and that participating in it is destroying the bloggers credibility. I see an issue with this. The main argument is that readers will not know whether or not a product endorsement is genuine or fabricated. I feel that separating a sponsored post into its own category is more than enough differentiation to show that an endorsement is influenced by a third party. This issue does provide an additional layer of obfuscation when determining how credible a blogger might be, but I don’t feel that it warrants casting shame on those bloggers who do accept compensation for blogging.
The only time monetary compensation bothers me, is when it takes over the blog. If I were to start accepting money for blog posts, I would make sure for every sponsored post I wrote there was, at least, one unsponsored post. If you want to make a decent amount of money doing sponsored posts, you need to do a bunch of them. Blogging every single day is the only way I can see to stop them from taking over your front page. When I see a blog where the majority of posts on the front page are sponsored I immediately roll my eyes, judge the blogger and leave. There are actually quite a few blogs on my list of blogs I can’t stand, because of this very reason. (This list is encompasses blogs where the blogger doesn’t know what they’re talking about, the blogger is just generally annoying, the blogger complains about stupid things, and the blogger fails to proof read…like ever. Essentially, this is a list of scum filled bottom feeders; you do not want to be on this list.) Along with the former example, I include pop-up/under advertisements as a way of monetization taking over a blog. If your blog has an ad that circumvents my pop-up blocker, consider me off your list of readers.
To this date, I have not accepted monetary or other compensation for any content written on this blog. However, I can not say with absolute certainty that I never will. In fact, I have considered it in the past. This doesn’t make me any less credible than anybody else — I am still, and always will be, the most credible person on the whole internet who can vouch for how awesome I am.